Take a minute, take a breather, meditate

 

At the Laughing River Yoga studio, overlooking the Winooski River, an intimate crowd gathers every week to meditate. 

Sarah Snow, a student of Tibetan Buddhism since 1995, leads the small class every Sunday from 1-3 p.m. The class is different each week, but usually consists of guided meditation and other practices like breathing exercises.

The classes are designed by Venerable Younge Khachab Rinpoche VII, a Tibetan Buddhist meditation master and the spiritual director of Rime Shedrub Ling Buddhist Centers, Snow said. 

Meditation is used regularly by many as a way to cultivate inner peace and settle the mind during times when it becomes agitated by thoughts of desire, anger and exhaustion, according to Laughing River. 

Rinpoche lives in Amherst, Mass. and goes to Vermont three times a year to teach. He designed this system with Snow so people would have a place to come and meditate, Snow said.

Snow said she and Rinpoche work together to set up the lessons so that they are not pushing Buddhism and allow everyone, regardless of their religion, to practice.

“We wanted people to have a place to meditate; that’s why we made it open,” Snow said. “It doesn’t push Buddhism, but [Rinpoche] is a Tibetan Buddhist so it does come through at times.”

Most of the attendees are regulars, including Burlington resident Abby Brown. Brown was introduced to the class by her sister and appreciates the way it has changed her outlook on life. 

“It makes your day feel longer because you are taking such a pause,” Brown said. 

Although meditation may come easily for some, others struggle to establish their inner peace.

Sarah Levine, an associate of the department of Sanskrit and Indian studies at Harvard, and a past speaker at UVM as part of the Claire M. Lintilhac Seminar on Asian studies, has experienced this first hand.

While on a meditation retreat in India, Levine confided in her meditation leader, Dhammawati Guruma, that she felt she could not finish the retreat. 

Guruma told Levine that meditation is easy for Nepalese people — their forefathers had been practicing meditation in one form or another since the Lord Buddha’s time. They just slip into it, but Westerners are different.

Meditation students have found that with time, the necessary focus becomes easier to find and they can easily slip into a meditative state with enough practice, Brown said.

“At first it was difficult, but by the second or third time it became easier to sit down and meditate for two hours,” Brown said.